John Pruitt - Usability Testing

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Description

"Do the developers really listen to anything you say?" we asked.

Who is saying it? The users who come through the user testing labs at Microsoft. John Pruitt, a usability lead on the Windows experience team (the feedback his team is gathering is being used to improve the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn). Here you get to see inside one of the usability labs. Over the next week you'll learn more about the product development cycle and see how usability lab-generated data is used to improve Windows and other products here at Microsoft.

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The Discussion

  • User profile image
    Tensor
    What I cant understand is, if they have usability testing down to this level, how come media player still sucks so much?

    I mean, get me in that lab with a copy of media player, a copy of winamp, and a directory full of mp3s. In about 5 seconds I can have them playing in winamp. With media player after about 10 minutes I'll have thrown the pc through the 2-way mirror in frustration.

    Oh and the msn explorer thing? One window? Maybe they should have used tabs Wink
  • User profile image
    Manip
    I have trouble believing this with examples like this:


    - Useless 'Do you want to build' box

    And this:


    - The IE open box, after you browse for your file it takes you back to this window with the file name listed and the options 'Ok' 'Cancel' or 'Browse' which considering you just selected the file yourself seems useless..
  • User profile image
    Rossj
    I'd be quite interested in how the MSN Messenger team got the new wink and nudge features through the usability team. Or does it next extend as far as being involved at design time?
  • User profile image
    Tensor

    At least you can switch nudge and wink off (sort of). You cant switch off handwriting. Much hilarity was had in this office sending large drawings to each other - for about 5 minutes, then it got old. I want to be able to turn off automatic acceptance of handwriting, but you cant. And the "Quality Improvement" program doesnt allow for feedback like that. In fact im going to start a thread here - see if it gets through to the right people Smiley

  • User profile image
    Rossj
    Frank Hileman wrote:
    Give all the developers machines with very limited memory and CPU power, and suddenly all the new libraries and developement tools would be scalable and easy to learn.


    +1

    This should be compulsory for developers at some point in their career (preferably early on). 
  • User profile image
    figuerres
    SO do may days using Commodore 8 bit systems count ?

    I had a VIC 20 w 6KB of ram!

    I did a modem app on a C= 128 with the core in 6502 assembler at about 8K, that included x-modem transfer code. then I did the UI with compiled basic for the 128... that came from a german vendor.


    or my first "Server" Novell Netware 2.15 on a 286
    that I think at a 200 meg IDE hd (big then and totaly new)

    Or how the Amiga ran so nice in 2 megs of ram.

    and the way they designed .Libraries (DLL's) to be relocatable by design -- no rebasing addresses.

    ok /Rant off Smiley
  • User profile image
    Frank Hileman
    It is too bad over-engineered API's like Avalon are fully baked before hitting the usability lab for developers. At that point it is too late to fix the usability problems; they are embedded in the architecture.

    Give all the developers machines with very limited memory and CPU power, and suddenly all the new libraries and development tools would be scalable and easy to learn. Visual Studio would run speedy; Avalon would actually be usable with 100K elements. That is the best usability tool for getting rid of gold-plating and inefficient code.
  • User profile image
    Rossj
    figuerres wrote:
    SO do may days using Commodore 8 bit systems count ?

    I had a VIC 20 w 6KB of ram!


    This will bring back some pleasant memories then (in induce nightmares)...

    Sorry to hijack the topic .. please carry on..
  • User profile image
    dantheman82
    Frank Hileman wrote:
    It is too bad over-engineered API's like Avalon are fully baked before hitting the usability lab for developers. At that point it is too late to fix the usability problems; they are embedded in the architecture.

    Give all the developers machines with very limited memory and CPU power, and suddenly all the new libraries and development tools would be scalable and easy to learn. Visual Studio would run speedy; Avalon would actually be usable with 100K elements. That is the best usability tool for getting rid of gold-plating and inefficient code.


    Yeah, that really, really bugs me.  I'm using VS .NET 2005 Beta and it loads my C# code files faster than the "optimized" VS .NET 2003 Professional I also have installed.  Try demoing the software to a bunch of fellow students - a real pain.

    Random ramblings from a Student Ambassador to Microsoft...
  • User profile image
    sparky
    Winamp is a crufty old POS.  To play those MP3's in Media Player, how about "select all" followed by "Play with Media Player" from the context menu?  Seems simple enough.

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